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Greenmarket Grub: San Marzano Tomatoes

What a rubbish summer 2009 was for tomatoes. I can’t remember eating even one really good tomato this year, which is just so depressing. Still, these San Marzano plum tomatoes were a flickering bright spot in an otherwise bad year.

Unlike a lot of tomatoes, San Marzanos are really meant for cooking—and if you’ve ever popped open a can of these tomatoes, you know why. Sweet and a little bitter, they’re often compared to a good bittersweet chocolate, which seems fairly apt. They’re nearly all meat inside, with only two narrow seed chambers (compared to four or more in other tomato varieties) making them exceptional for cooking. And with summer being so definitively over (if you can say we even had a summer this year), I knew exactly what to make of these tomatoes: soup.


Tomatensoep (Dutch-style tomato soup)

Chop two leeks, two onions, and one peeled carrot and saute in butter (or oil) over medium heat, making sure not to brown the vegetables. Add two pounds chopped, peeled, and seeded tomatoes and a peeled, diced potato. Add enough liquid to cover everything. (I used a combination of water, a bouillon cube and a Parmesan rind.) Add a couple bay leaves and a handful of chopped parsley. Let simmer until all the vegetables are tender, fish out the bay leaves (and cheese rind, if you used that) then blend into a puree. Add salt and/or pepper to taste, as well as some milk or cream, if that suits you.

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